Arsenal have five straight league wins, a second consecutive clean sheet and are even on points for fourth place.
The above, all sound great. However, while the results have been good, the actual performances have not been great. This is better than the alternative of good play, with bad results. It is great to bank points during these spells, because even if the wins are a bit dodgy and ugly you don’t have to give them back. Now the task of Unai Emery and his staff is to get the players, playing the way he wants.
By the pictures:
Rob Holding makes a case to be a regular starter
5 – Aerial duels won of 7. Tied for most.
9 – Ball recoveries, led Arsenal
0 – Times dribbled past
7 – Clearances, led Arsenal
0 – Fouls committed
3 – Interceptions, led Arsenal
2 – Offsides provoked, led all players
1 – Block (it was a big one, see below)
1 – Dribble completed
89% – Pass completion percentage, 4th best on Arsenal
With Sokratis missing out on today’s match with an injury it was a great sign to see Holding be able to step in and have a great match. He was a very steady performer on defense for Arsenal on a day that Arsenal didn’t look very good on that front. I think that he is making a case to be a regular starter.
Mesut Özil imposes his influence (finally)
65 – Touches for Özil, the most he has had in a match this season
36 – Final third touches, tied for most in the match.
22 – Final third passes completed, second most in the match (counts only passes that start and end in the final third)
15 – Final third passes completed in the second half, led all players (counts only passes that start and end in the final third)
4 – Passes into the box completed, led Arsenal.
1 – Goal
Getting Özil into matches has been difficult so far this season. He has not looked marginalized on the right hand side of the Emery 4231 system. Today he started on the right hand side and looked lost in the first half.
In the first half, Özil had to drop deep to be able to find any of the ball. Arsenal continued to have a huge left sided biases in their attack leaving Özil isolated on the right.
To start the second half, Emery seemed to make a tactical switch with Lacazette and Aubameyang taking turns switching as the right side forward. This change seemed like it was huge in unlocking Özil to run the Arsenal attack.
To end the match, with Ramsey subbed off Özil was free to take up a more free floating position as the number 10.
If Emery is set on keeping Ramsey in the stating line up, the switch of Özil from the right to the left might allow him to still influence the game even if he isn’t in his preferred role.
Watford waste golden chances
6 – Big Chances for Watford, the most that they have created in a match this season. (A big chance is defined by Opta as: A situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score usually in a one-on-one scenario or from very close range.)
3 – Big Chances on target for Watford, plus one blocked. Big Chances on target are converted into goals 70% of the time.
5 – Big Chances for Watford while the match was still 0-0.
1.8 – Expected Goals of those 5 chances.
Here are the five chances, with the explanations that go into the xG for each.
Troy Deeney, 52nd minute. shot from feet, from the center of the box, following a set play, classified as a big chance. 0.43 xG and 0.84 in the on target model.
This was a great save from Bernd Leno, where he has almost no time to react to a ball that was put towards the corner of the goal.
Andre Gray, 68th minute. Shot from feet, from the left box, following a through ball, classified as a big chance. 0.32 xG and 0.4 in the on target model.
Leno does a really good job to come out and make the target small here. I also really liked that he stayed up and big all the way through to the shot. Another really good save.
Isaac Success, 72nd minute. Shot from feet, from the left box, classified as a big chance. 0.22 xG and 0.0 in the on target model (Blocked).
Rob Holding had a long way to go to be in position to get this block. It showed great anticipation as Shkodran Mustafi tried to play Success offside and failed.
Craig Cathcart 74th minute. Shot from feet, from the six yard box, following a set piece, classified as a big chance. 0.49 xG and 0.7 in the on target model.
I think that this is probably a harder chance than how it is rated, Cathcart is off balance here as he is trying to shoot and can’t make clean contact. These are factors that the expected goals model doesn’t know about. It was still good from Leno to stay big and then to some how hold on to the ball after the initial save.
Isaac Success 75th minute. Shot from feet, from the right box, following a fast attack, classified as a big chance. 0.34 xG and 0.0 in the on target model (missed).
This was one of Holding’s only misstep in the match, he was beaten to the goal side by Success who had tons of space to run into. This shot was the closest Watford came to scoring with the chipped shot hitting off the post over Leno.
Sources: Whoscored, Statszone, my own database